Ab initio study of the chemical states of water on Cr2O3(0 0 0 1): From the isolated molecule to saturation coverage

Dominique Costa, Kamal Sharkas, Mazharul M. Islam, Philippe Marcus

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54 Citations (SciVal)


The reactivity of the (0 0 0 1)-Cr-Cr2O3 surface towards water was studied by means of periodic DFT + U. Several water coverages were studied, from 1.2H2O/nm2 to 14.1H2O/nm2, corresponding to 1/4, 1, 2 and 3 water/Cr at the (0 0 0 1)-Cr2O3 surface, respectively. With increasing coverage, water gradually completes the coordination sphere of the surface Cr atoms from 3 (dry surface) to 4 (1.2 and 4.7H2O/nm2), 5 (9.4H2O/nm2) and 6 (14.1H2O/nm2). For all studied coverages, water replaces an O atom from the missing above plane. At coverages 1.2 and 4.7H2O/nm2, the Cr-Os (surface oxygen) acid-base character and bond directionality govern the water adsorption. The adsorption is molecular at the lowest coverage. At 4.7H2O/nm2, molecular and dissociative states are isoenergetic. The activation energy barrier between the two states being as low as 12 kJ/mol, allowing protons exchanges between the OH groups, as evidenced by ab inito molecular dynamics at room temperature. At coverages of 9.4 and 14.1H2O/nm2, 1D- (respectively, 2D-) water networks are formed. The resulting surface terminations are -Cr(OH)2 and -Cr(OH)3- like, respectively. The increased stability of those terminations as compared to the previous ones are due to the stabilization of the adsorbed phase through a H-bond network and to the increase in the Cr coordination number, stabilizing the Cr (t2g) orbitals in the valence band. An atomistic thermodynamic approach allows us to specify the temperature and water pressure domains of prevalence for each surface termination. It is found that the -Cr(OH)3-like, -Cr(OH)2 and anhydrous surfaces may be stabilized depending on (T, P) conditions. Calculated energies of adsorption and OH frequencies are in good agreement with published experimental data and support the full hydroxylation model, where the Cr achieves a 6-fold coordination, at saturation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2484-2493
Number of pages10
JournalSurface Science
Issue number16
Early online date17 Jun 2009
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2009


  • Ab initio
  • Adsorption
  • CrO
  • DFT + U
  • Dissociation
  • Frequency
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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